BEL-RIDGE, Mo. – Like many other problems in life, it all comes down to money.
The Bel-Ridge City Council voted Thursday to outsource its police coverage to the nearby community of Normandy, effecting eliminating the local police department.
Over the years, Bel-Ridge has spent about a million dollars it didn’t have. They are now having to make serious and painful cuts. The town hall meeting began with some comments from Bel-Ridge Mayor Willie Fair.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to save the city,” he said. “We can’t have $5 and spend $15, it doesn’t work that way.”
One council member then presented the problems and possible solutions. And folks had questions.
“Are we going to be protected in Bel-Ridge?” said resident Mike Ruff. “(The police) know the people who live here. They know who, where, the trouble spots.”
Rebecca Cogshell, 72, got emotional.
“It hurts me to see Bel-Ridge go down like this,” she said.
Cogshell was not only sad but also frustrated.
“Tired of the promises, cause that’s all we been getting is promises,” she said.
City officials said Bel-Ridge will save about $400,000 a year by signing an enforcement contract with Normandy. They tried to calm people’s fears about the level of protection, insisting it will be at least as strong as they have now and probably better.
And then Normandy’s police chief and a Normandy officer talked to the assembled crowd, telling them what to expect and even boasted about many of the services they offer.
“The Normandy Police Department has officers that come out and do safety inspections of your home and we’ll walk the perimeter of your home,” Sgt. Tamieka Sanders said. “Maybe lights need to be replaced, maybe cameras need to be installed.”
The Normandy chief said Bel-Ridge officers will have the first opportunities to apply for new jobs on the new force. If hired, they will earn $7,000 more a year. People who were concerned about the changes at least seemed hopeful by the time the meeting ended.